10 Reasons Excel & Word Docs are Hurting Subcontractor Firms

Recently, every industry has begun to shift from traditional Excel and Word files to cloud-based technology to keep everything integrated and running efficiently.  More companies are putting an emphasis on mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads rather than laptops or desktop computers to increase mobility; this business model shift is especially impactful for on-the-go industries, such as construction.

Despite the endless possibilities that mobile technology provides to the construction industry, they still are the lowest spenders on technology than any other industry.  If you are one of those companies that still need convincing, continue reading.

Here are 10 reasons why Excel and Word docs are hurting subcontractor firms:

1. Not user-friendly

Excel is perfect for small projects that have a single user.  However, if your project requires massive amounts of data and the ability to edit and share by multiple users, the Excel spreadsheet becomes extremely ineffective.  Also, Excel does not provide an intuitive way to extract data that does not require extensive expertise using Excel.  Switching to cloud-based construction software can add ease to this process and make it standardized for all users.

2. Not specific to construction metrics

Excel has many capabilities that make it useful for a variety of projects; however, it does not have construction-specific metrics that are needed for efficient data inputting and analyzation.  Software created specifically for the construction industry will be equipped with all of the necessary metrics specific to the industry.

3. Does not operate in real-time

Seamless operations come from constant communication and collaboration between every member of a project from construction workers in the field to the back office.  Excel or Word docs do not allow for real-time updating of information, which affects the knowledge of the back office with what is going on in the field.  This lack of communication leads to the decision makers not having accurate and up-to-date information needed to make informed decisions.  Another shortcoming of Excel or Word is that it does not allow field workers to instantly share photos, drawings, notes, reports, or anything else from the jobsite back to the office.  Workers may use email or text message to share this information, but it’s much simpler and efficient to have these capabilities in one integrated platform.

4. No integration capabilities

Companies that have yet to adapt to cloud technologies are using a variety of different services to perform all of their business functions.  This means information is stored in various places, which creates a lack of organization and more difficulty in accessing certain information. In others, Siloes are mistakenly established. With cloud-based software such as eSUB, your project management, accounting, and estimating is all integrated into one easily accessible platform.  It even has email capabilities so you can more effectively communicate between field and office without having to leave the job-site.

5. Puts you behind schedule

If decisions are not being made in time due to a lack of current information, the schedule of the project is affected.  Or, worse, will cause rework causing a project not to be completed by the deadline or cause an increase in costs to complete the project quicker than was originally planned.

6. Higher possibility for errors which in turn incurs costs

We are human and humans are anything but perfect.  Human data entry without the aid of technology is always subject to errors.  Even the tiniest of errors could create tremendous costs; often these small errors are easily overlooked and extremely difficult to spot in an Excel spreadsheet.  The aid of technology bars any double entry or other common errors made in manual reporting.

7. No mobility causes lower productivity

The construction industry is an on-the-go industry, and Excel cannot keep up.  Using Excel spreadsheets creates the need for workers to go back to the office to input data rather than being able to do so in-field.  As you know, attempting to update spreadsheets in the field is extremely difficult.  This wastes time for the worker that could otherwise be spent doing something productive and wastes time for anyone else on the project that is dependent on that information to make decisions.  If this information is not updated in real time, they must either make uninformed decisions or be forced to wait for the most updated information.

8. No multi-user capability

Using Excel limits the number of people editing the data to one.  This greatly limits the efficiency of an organization if only one person can be working on something that everybody needs to be accessing.  This also inhibits collaboration and communication, which can create errors and setbacks.

9. More expensive in the long-run

It is extremely costly to install and maintain IT (hardware, software, networks) and to continuously update it to ensure compatibility across all devices. With cloud-based software, updates occur automatically and without extra costs.  These updates keep the software running smoothly, and may add features that will more effectively integrate all aspects of a project into one platform.  Without the use of mobile technology, workers have to travel from the field to the office sometimes many times a day.  This creates longer paid hours as well as greater travel expenses for the company.

10. Faster and more accurate decisions

Construction workers can submit notes and plans into the system in real time from which the project manager, who may be off-site, can instantly respond to what is updated and approve or deny any changes.  The ability for the project manager to participate in the decisions made on the field causes more accurate decisions to be made, and at a much faster speed than could be offered by Excel or Word documents.

Key takeaways

The industry is shifting to mobile technology to keep up with the on-the-go activities of construction workers.  There may be reasons why companies have hesitated to switch, such as familiarity or lack of knowledge about the new technology.  Whatever the reason, cloud-based software has undeniable advantages that Excel or Word simply cannot match.


Construction Business Owner